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Word Gems 

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What They Said About the Gettysburg Address



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comments by Rush Limbaugh:

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to read the Gettysburg Address to you. November 19th, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered this speech on the battlefield, and I want to read to you after I read it -- and it's very short and it's recognized now as one of the greatest presidential speeches in history; one of the greatest speeches in history, period -- and I want to read to you the reaction to the Gettysburg address from the Harrisburg Patriot and Union, the Chicago Times, the Springfield Republican... But first, here's the Gettysburg Address.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

The Harrisburg Patriot and Union wrote: "We pass over the silly remarks of the President; for the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of."

The Chicago Times: "The cheeks of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and dishwatery utterance."

The London Times: "[T]he ceremony was rendered ludicrous by some of the sallies of that poor President Lincoln... Anything more dull and commonplace it would not be easy to produce."

The Springfield Republican was surprised at how well Lincoln did, though, noting: "We had grown so accustomed to homely and imperfect phrase in his productions that we had come to think it was the law of his utterance."

These are all cited in Carl Sandburg's single-volume book: Abraham Lincoln, The Prairie Years and The War Years...



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